Over a third (36 per cent) of parents and carers of children and young people with Type 1 diabetes are unaware of a landmark new law introduced last year to help improve support in school for children with medical conditions. The new law, which was introduced in England last September as part of the Children’s and Family Act 2014, means that schools in the country now have a legal duty to ensure children and young people with medical conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, asthma and epilepsy get the care they need in school.
Diabetes UK campaigned for this legal protection as while many schools already offer excellent support for children and young people with diabetes, this isn’t the case for all, and some students with the condition are prevented from meeting their full educational potential at school. Students can also face discrimination in relation to school trips and extra-curricular activities, which means they are excluded from leading a full and active school life.
While the survey may not be representative of all parents and carers, Diabetes UK says that it is concerned that a year after the law’s introduction such a large proportion of parents and carers are unaware of it. This means that their children could be missing out on opportunities to get the full benefit from their education. The findings follow a recent survey by Diabetes UK which found that almost a third of parents and carers of children and young people with Type 1 diabetes are less than satisfied with the care and support their child receives in school.
To raise awareness of the new law and good practice, and to celebrate schools that provide great care, Diabetes UK has launched The Good Diabetes Care in School Award. The charity is encouraging parents and carers, healthcare professionals and schools to nominate a school for the award. Winners will be decided by an assessment panel, which includes parents and representatives from Diabetes UK, and will be announced later this year, and next year. The charity hopes that the award will encourage all schools to provide the care and support children with Type 1 diabetes need.
As part of Diabetes UK’s Type 1 diabetes: Make the grade campaign, the charity has also created free resources to help parents and schools get the right care in place. This includes a Care in School Helpline which provides parents of children and young people with Type 1 diabetes in England, Scotland and Wales with information and support around the care their child is entitled to receive at school.
Robin Hewings, Diabetes UK Head of Policy, said: “The new law will help children and young people with Type 1 diabetes get the same opportunities as their peers without the condition. That is why it is important that both schools and parents are aware of it. Good diabetes care in school is vital to enable a child to thrive at school, so we want to see all children benefitting from the new law.
“We know that lots of schools already do a great job of supporting students with Type 1 diabetes, but it is essential that all schools provide children and young people with the condition with the support they need, which is why we have launched the Good Diabetes Care in School Award. The fact that some schools are doing a fantastic job shows that good care is achievable. We want to celebrate these schools and share best practice so that all students with diabetes get the care they need and get the best from their education.”
Diabetes UK’s survey was conducted with 179 parents and carers of children with Type 1 diabetes. Nominations for this year’s Award can be made anytime from Monday, 14 September 2015 to Thursday, 16 June 2016.